Thursday, August 27, 2020

Read with Us 2020: A Book Outside Your (Genre) Comfort Zone

Hi, friends! Better late than never, right? The start of school has had me reading less and blogging even less than that ... which is my excuse for why I'm posting this at the very end of August. In July, my sister and I decided to read books outside of our genre comfort zone. She picked World War II fiction, and I picked science fiction.

(Note: The title of each book links to its Amazon page. These are affiliate links.)

Steph's pick: All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

This book spans continents, times, and the magic that is radio communication. Flitting back and forth between a blind French girl and a young technologically gifted German boy, this book takes you into what it was like during WWII for people on both sides of the war. The writing was engaging, characters well developed, story line tragic as one would expect for a WWII novel. I am glad that I can now discuss a book that was widely popular, but it has not converted me to the genre. I do not typically enjoy crying during my books (Val’s sign of an excellent novel), so I will not be reading more in this avenue of literature. However, the way the author brought the mystery and magic of radio to life was delightful. In a time where we are so used to immediate communication and information, I really felt the awe and wonder of being able to communicate so far with so simple a piece of machinery. It was also fascinating to see how subtly prejudice can be planted in the minds of the people and how important it is to learn critical thinking and to remember that even at war there are people with thoughts, feelings, and dreams on the other side. 4 stars.

(Becky here: Doesn't the beginning of Steph's review remind you of Veronica Mars? Logan: "I thought our story was epic, you know. You and me." Veronica: "Epic how?" Logan: "Spanning years and continents. Lives ruined and bloodshed. Epic.")

Becky's pick: Crystal Witness by Kathy Tyers

First, a clarification: I love science fiction TV shows and movies (especially TV shows). I grew up watching Star Trek: The Next Generation, and I own all 10 seasons and both TV movies of Stargate: SG-1. But for whatever reason, I've just never gotten into reading science fiction. I honestly think that part of it is that I need some sort of visual frame of reference for things—it takes a lot of work for my brain to wrap around something I haven't seen before. Plus, names of people and places in sci-fi and fantasy are usually harder for me to keep track of (unless there's a character list). And, to complicate things, I'm generally not a fan of novelizations or "continuing stories" about movies or TV shows. So the books that I would be able to easily understand by virtue of already knowing the worlds and characters aren't ones I'm interested in.

Anyway ...

Crystal Witness is the story of Ming, a woman who spent 20 years in suspended animation and had her brain wiped because of a crime she (obviously) can't remember committing. She has to serve out her sentence on an alien world as an artist creating intricate designs for her employer. Soon, she connects with musician Tieg, and she discovers a resistance movement that may help her gain her freedom ... or may lead to her death.

I liked this book quite a bit once I got to the point where I could keep the characters straight (I told you it's a problem for me). I was genuinely surprised at the way some things turned out, and I was left wanting more. (There's a sequel series coming ...) 4 stars.

Have you read a book outside one of your normal genres recently? What was it, and what did you think?

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. This means if you click the link and make a purchase, I will receive a small commission. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

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